CONTACT: CHARLES S. DRUM
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0048; fax (319) 384-0024
July 13, 2001
Energy costs prompt UI to adopt conservation measures
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Just as homeowners across the country
are adjusting their thermostats and comfort levels in the face of extraordinary
energy costs, the University of Iowa is taking steps to reduce electrical
usage and is asking staff, faculty, and students to do their part.
"The university is a major energy user, serving thousands
of people every day," says John Amend, director of the universitys facilities
services. "We always try to be careful about the energy we use, but higher
energy costs have prompted us to look more closely at how we can save energy
and to adopt some new strategies."
Some of those strategies are familiar to homeowners:
higher thermostat settings in summer, lower in winter, and special settings
at night and when no ones in the house. But because the university is
such a big place, with so many specific needs in various areas around campus,
accomplishing these changes means involving all the people who work in these
"Its not as though theres one campus thermostat
we can set," Amend says. "Every building on campus has to be treated differently.
They all were custom built over many years, with a wide variety of heating
and cooling plants, with a lot of different maintenance needs. And each building
has special areas such as laboratories, clinics, and even greenhouses where
temperature stability is critical to the work they do there." Amend says his
unit is auditing each buildings energy needs and designing an overall
campus energy conservation plan, but its the people who work in the
buildings who know best what can save energy in their areas.
"We need the faculty and staff and students to be very
aware of energy use, and to know that ultimately the cost of the energy they
use does come out of our budgets. We need them to work with us to make their
buildings more energy efficient," Amend says. He cites an example in physics
and astronomy where researchers use a high energy device called a "Q-machine"
in their plasma research. The researchers worked with engineers in UI facilities
services to time their experiments to coincide with lower energy rates.
"I'm sure there are other instances where our staff and
faculty can help us save energy, not just in large ways like this, but in
small ways that add up, as well," Amend says. "People get tired of hearing
about turning off unneeded lights, but it really does help."
The UI also participates in MidAmerican Energy Corporations
electrical curtailment program, which limits electrical usage during peak
periods. Curtailment -- meaning reduction of electrical power for up to six
hours -- can be requested by MidAmerican between June 1 and September 30.
In return for this agreement, the University receives a lower electrical rate.
The university generates about one third of its electrical energy at its own
power plant, but also buys power from MidAmerican.